With the 2014 edition of the greatest sporting show on earth, the FIFA World Cup, set to kick off in Brazil tomorrow, the world’s eyes will naturally be riveted on the South American nation and television screens.
Like almost everyone else, Mumbaikars too are in the throes of football fever as was evidenced by an article in this paper in which people from every walk of life spoke about how they were gearing to watch the late night matches on television and what this tournament means to them.
Many Mumbaikars said every World Cup has been a watershed moment in their viewing life. They said are going to be glued to the TV screen, go in bleary-eyed to work, risk family conflicts as the television is going on till late, and engage in banter with friends and relatives about the favourites and those destined to fail.
Commercial establishments are, of course, eyeing their piece of the pie, and have lined up special promotions and an array of offers through the approximately 31-day period that the World Cup will be on for. While the fever is on, let us use this one-month window to introspect and take action on how the game is played and promoted at the grassroots in this city.
There are hardly any open maidans for ordinary people to play football and we often see kids playing on the roads. Whatever open space exists is often taken away for functions or dharnas.
At several school football events, we see that players do not have basic facilities like showers, functioning toilets or places where players can change in privacy. This paper had carried a report stating how girls from one school, who had gone to play football in another school, had to change in the school bus.
It is time, then, not just to root for superstars and savour their skills but look at how we can strengthen the football network in this city, especially for our children who need all the support and infrastructure they can get to bring their footballing dreams to fruition.